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Alternative loans are private loans that are not funded by the federal government and are approved based on the good credit history of the student and/or co-signer. Most lenders require a credit-worthy co-signer. The co-signer does not need to be a parent. 

You should exhaust all of your scholarship, grant and federal student loan options before applying for an alternative loan.  Alternative loans should be used as a last resort in funding your education.